Former Dentsu China CEO Susana Tsui on leaving the ad industry for startups
“A key lesson from my time in the ad industry is the importance of keeping up with the pace of change and remaining relevant,” Susana Tsui tells The Drum, a couple of weeks after the former chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) China was announced as the new media lead for TheAsianparent.
The platform originally started as a blog but has since grown out its business to target Asian mums.
Tsui was collateral damage from DAN’s decision to split its Asia Pacific business in March into three clusters that were named Greater North, Greater South and ANZ in an ongoing bid to adopt a localised approach. Michelle Lau, who held various leadership roles with the group between 2003 and 2015, replaced her.
There is no hint of animosity towards her former employees, as she points out that the other big holding groups are also going through massive changes internally.
“The marketing and advertising industry are going through a period of tectonic shifts, mainly driven by technology advancements, the mass reach of the internet, and the prevalence of the smartphones,” she explains.
After taking almost five months to decide her next career move, Tsui says what attracted her to TheAsianparent was that she firmly believes that she can leverage her experience and expertise from the ad world to grow the business and expand the platform to be relevant to a wider audience, both geographically and demographically.
The platform originally started as a blog but has since grown out its business to launch other content services that target Asian mums. It claims it has become one of the most downloaded parenting apps in Asia since it launched on the app stores in 2018.
As chief executive of media, Tsui will helm the Tickled Media-owned platform’s content, community, and media platforms, including its website and its community app.
She will also sit in TheAsianparent's senior leadership team and help Roshni Mahtani, founder and chief executive officer, to strengthen the brand across both new and mature markets.
Tsui points to her two-decades-long experience working on digital and business transformation strategies for different agency brands and networks. This means her new role encompasses all the skill sets across media, creative, digital disciplines.
“Given my experience, I understand what is required to propel a business towards greater growth,” she explains.
“For TheAsianparent, we need to launch new media products that will match our ambition of rapid growth, design a company structure to allow for scale, and grow our community of parents. This would thus entail investment in talent and technological infrastructure to deliver the best parenting products to our community.”
She continues: “TheAsianparent is backed by a passionate and dynamic team that is focused on supporting and connecting parents around the region to make more informed decisions to raise happier, healthier and confident children. That itself is very meaningful.”
The platform recently completed a major Series C funding round, led by Fosun and joined by JD.com, ATM Capital, Redbadge Pacific and WHG Holdings. The latest funding round will be used to expand the brand into new markets outside of South East Asia, including launching in Africa.
This excites Tsui, who has grand ambitions to ensure the platform transpire its brand across all channels, from the web to its app platforms. She says she wants to do this by consistently communicating the brand and brand values in one voice internally and externally.
“Our success in Series C funding and new strategic hires we are bringing on board to help us grow. So, we expect to invest in our people, our brand and on our mission to level the playing field for Asian parents, by providing a platform full of rich content and community support,” she explains.
The platform now has over 180 people across 12 countries and districts, including Singapore — where it is headquartered, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, India, Taiwan, Japan, and Nigeria.